Some things don’t change. En route to the White House after his swearing-in, President Donald Trump stopped his motorcade just before the luxury hotel bearing his name and walked with his family for a bit in an obvious tip of the hat to his business.
And some things do change. The irascible Trump of the campaign trail miraculously disappeared after a fiery inaugural address, and was replaced by an amiable New York dealmaker schmoozing with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill. There’s more: At a traditional luncheon on the Hill, he called out to Hillary Clinton – the Democratic candidate with whom he had clashed bitterly during the campaign – and prompted a standing ovation for her and her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
Day one in a new president’s tenure is full of pomp and pageantry, starting with the inaugural parade and ending with inaugural balls that are mostly focused on the First Lady’s dress, who made it (Caroline Herrera, if you wanted to know), how did it compare with her predecessor’s (just started). But Trump also got right down to business by signing an executive order on the Affordable Care Act, the signature legislation of former President Barack Obama that Republicans plan to repeal and replace.
He also signed the appointment letters of two cabinet nominees confirmed by the senate – general James Mattis as defense secretary and retired general John Kelly as secretary for homeland secretary. The rest will happen, or not, next week.
The day was also marked by instances of protests turning violent in different parts of the city, with agitators smashing windows of businesses downtown and setting trash bins on fire. More than 200 people were arrested, and several police officers were injured.
A massive rally – called the Women’s March – is scheduled to take place in DC and 250 cities across the country on Saturday to register concerns about the new administration and its pursuit of actions potentially damaging to women and minorities. “As witnessed by the recent election, there has been a profound deepening of divisions in our country,” organisers of the march said in a statement. “Etched in history, these divisions cleave us from one another across the lines of racial, ethnic, religious and sexual identity. We seek to address these divisions and stand together in the face of injustice. Together, we will raise our voices in the service of all people.”
Trump’s inaugural speech, which hewed close to his campaign promises, did little to address those concerns. He stated once again that he would work to make the lives of all Americans better, but somehow missed the mark. Commentators and analysts wanted to hear more from Trump on the need for unity than a mere statement that “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots”.
The protestors, however, aren’t backing down. “We want him to step down, resign,” said Ted Sirota of refusefascism.org, one of the organisations staging protests in DC.
Trump is not stepping down, so what next?